Combine all ingredients, except the macaroni and cheese, in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours. Turn the heat to high, add the macaroni, and cook for 30 minutes, or until the macaroni is just tender. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese just before serving. Note: can substitute red kidney beans or chickpeas for the cannellini.
The name of this soup is rooted in the Latin word, minestrare, to serve. Tradition holds that in the days before inns, travelers in Italy stopped at monasteries, where they were assured a bowl of hearty vegetable soup and a night’s lodging. The ingredients in the soup varied from region to region.